Joseph Cooper and Oliver Legg – Founders of Aspiron Search

When RecruitHub first met Oliver Legg and Joseph Cooper, they were high-billing consultants in the cybersecurity space with big ambitions – keen to take their expertise in placing in-demand cyber professionals and invest it into their own company.

Fast-forward less than 6 months and it’s been fantastic to see them smashing their performance projections and growing out their team ahead of schedule, well on their way to their goal of owning a high-value recruitment agency built firmly on their values.

What are your backgrounds in recruitment, and how did the idea for Aspiron come about?
Prior to launching Aspiron we worked for over 4 years in the same space, eventually deciding that we had the market knowledge and proven billing ability to go alone and build our own business.
We had always worked really closely together, and eventually decided it was time to do it ourselves, and try and do it better than we were doing it before.
What were the key reasons for starting your own business?
 The pandemic had a massive part to play.
We’d been in London 5 days a week, and we both had young families.
The experience of 2020 opened our eyes to the flexibility that’s available, and the option to control your work and personal life.
We also wanted to do things a bit differently – a bit better than we were beforehand, and to do things our way, without having to answer to anyone else.
We’d actually known that we wanted to be our own bosses for some time, driven mostly by flexibility, unlimited growth progression and the opportunity for wealth creation.
Working for someone else you don’t earn as much as a business owner, it’s as simple as that.
How did you know the timing was right to launch?
Is the timing ever right?
The timing was probably the possible worst timing ever, if someone was to look in and ask ‘when shall we start a business’ they’d probably put our timing at the absolute bottom of the list.
Olly’s daughter arrived in January and he resigned on the last day of March.
The timing’s never right – if anyone looks at their personal situation they’re probably always going to find problems with the timing.
Sometimes you’ve just got to go for it.
Sometimes bad timing can give you even more motivation to make it work and to make it work quickly, because there’s no option to fail.

When it came to launching, what different options did you look at? 

We looked at about 3 or 4 different options, and RecruitHub by a mile had a better deal than everything else that we looked at, across everything, from the technology to the financial cost.

One reason RecruitHub stood out was for having such a powerful tech stack. The others were much more focused on the financial support and the back office, and would work out the tech around us.

But most importantly, the other options we looked at didn’t quite resonate – we felt like one of hundreds, it was quite commoditised.

With RecruitHub it felt much more personal, even though we only had one in-person meeting before launching.

RecruitHub was clearly working out if we were right for them, just as much as if we were right for RecruitHub, whereas some of the others clearly wanted to get as many people as possible on board to ‘see if it works out’.

We felt that RecruitHub were much more invested in us than the other options we looked at.

How quickly were you able to focus on generating revenue after your launch?

Day two.

Within week two we were delivering to roles, and off the back of that delivery it all just snowballed in terms of other new business, and from there we’ve focused on that niche, and from that niche it’s grown and grown.

Week one we were rockling and rolling, straight out of the traps!

How has the tech stack from RecruitHub impacted your performance?

Everything’s so much quicker, we’re getting more candidate engagement with less time from our side.

It took a while to feel ‘at home’ with the workflows, because we didn’t have any of that before – we had a CRM, a LinkedIn Recruiter license and a couple of job boards and that was it.

Now we’ve got all these sourcing tools, automation tools, it’s great.

One of the main reasons that we decided to go with RecruitHub was so that we could focus on revenue-generating tasks, so having all of this tech stack configured, ready to rock, it’s been a massive help and has got us up to speed very quickly.

What were your doubts about launching and how did you get over those?

You doubt yourself, of course.

The day we launched we both sat there and thought “yikes, what have we done?”. But it was the excitement and the adrenaline, then as soon as you get your first customer and your first deal, you’re rocking and rolling.

The doubt is in yourself – we know we were both excellent recruiters but we didn’t know if we were excellent business owners, but we’re doing exceptionally well at the moment in comparison to what we forecast.

How were the first few weeks of trading?

Joe got us off to an excellent start and managed to bring on a big multi-deal retainer with a firm in San Francisco, and we’ve built a really solid client base around that specific niche.

Honestly, couldn’t have asked for a better start, and now we’re just trying to keep up the momentum.

Aspiron has focused exclusively on the US market since launching – how has that been?

We’ve loved it – the US is a land of opportunity. The talent pools are bigger, the terms of business are better, the salaries are higher. It naturally makes sense, especially if you’re starting from scratch, to focus on the most lucrative market.

It’s been fantastic, and as Covid restrictions are lifting we’ll be out visiting our customers, we’ll be out in Vegas next year for a security conference, and obviously we’ll have a lot of fun while we’re there!

It also ties in with the flexibility – if we were working US hours in a London office five days a week in the environment we were in before, it wouldn’t have been doable or sustainable.

But because we are now in complete control of our day, and when we hire we want our employees to be able to control their day and focus on the end result and not the number of hours in the office.

Having the ability to just control our working hours has been great.

What’s the most exciting element of running your own company?

The financial freedom – the reward is potentially so much more. It’s now solely down to us – if the business fails, it’s our fault.

The exciting thing is having complete ownership over whether this succeeds or whether it doesn’t.

You’re the master of your own success.

You can’t rely on anyone else – if you want to get rich, if you want a boat, a big family… you’re the one who’s got to make it happen.

What are your USPs, what makes you different?

We’re not reinventing the core model of recruitment, we’re just doing it really well.

We focus on candidate and client relationships – one of the things we wanted to get away from in our old businesses was the emphasis on just ‘doing deals’.

We now focus on the relationships, and we’re finding already in just 4 months that that’s paying dividends, and the revenue, deals and profit are coming with that.

We’re looking to hire, we’ve secured an office space and the values we’re building the business on form a scorecard to see if candidates match our culture.

We’re a values-led business, but it’s really all about excellence – we want to deliver incredible results, and we’re looking to be a lean team rather than a massive company.

We also want to have fun while doing it – there’s a famous quote that if you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life, so from a cultural perspective that’s important.

The people we hire into the business will be coming on a journey with us.

What advice would you give to recruiters sitting on the fence, considering starting up?

If you back yourself as someone that can generate business and do proper 360 recruitment without anyone else and you understand the recruitment business, then do it.

What’s stopping you?

Ignore the timing!

If the question comes down to if it’s the ‘right time’, the right time is never going to come.

Don’t get strung up on timing, grab the opportunity with both hands.

If you’re doing well at your previous company, why not?

Anyone can do it for themselves.

You don’t need to build a monster of a business like a Hays – it all comes down to that freedom element.

You can work the hours you want and reap the rewards.

We wish we’d done this years ago!

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